Four Action Words For The New Year Podcast

The new year carries a sense of hope for needed change. In this episode of Breaking Bread, the clinical staff from ACCFS share four words to help inspire and guide the changes we need to make.  These simple four verbs will be easy to remember and promise helpful practical action.

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Show Notes:

Four simple action words that can motivate and guide positive change for our new year.

  • WalkSlowing down is necessary for us to live well. It puts us in a position to live mindfully.
  • Cultivate – Fostering, encouraging, and nurturing growth. It puts us in a position where the next healthy step in progress is possible.
  • Balance – Not all things equal, but all things in healthy proportion. It puts us in a position where we are investing in areas that matter most.
  • Explore – Being curious and opening ourselves up to something new. It puts us in a position to grow our world and grow in our world.


Just being able to narrow in on what is one thing I can focus on that really has multiple ways of benefiting life. Welcome everyone to Breaking Bread, the podcast brought to you by Apostolic Counseling and Family Services. Excellent to have you along. I’ve got the counselors in office here again today. 

Kaleb, Kathy, Ted, Brian, welcome. Glad to be here. Thanks, Matt. So, this is the new year, 2023. You know, I have to give a shout out to my sister-in-law because the idea of this podcast comes from her. She has a long tradition every new year to have one, two, maybe three words that she intends to kind of guide her new year. 

And they’re really excellent. They’re easy words to remember. They’re very informative. They kind of calibrate you and they kind of say, oh yeah, remember this thing. In the spirit of that, I’ve asked our counselors to come up with just one word, one word for the new year. And we’re going to unpack those words here. 

They’ve each shared that word. And those words, interestingly enough, are all verbs. Words that send us into action. Okay? So each one we’re going to take a turn to share our word for the New Year and then just elaborate on it. Kaleb, let’s start with you. Sure. Drumroll. Yeah. 

Alright. So, my word for the New Year is walk. Yeah, W A L K. Okay, I was going to say W O K is a noun. Oh, boy. So, just moving forward, just put everybody at ease. We will not ask you to spell your words. Thank you, Kaleb. Okay. Always been the overachiever. Yeah. Okay. So, I think when you think about walk, it’s different from running. We think about running is like there’s a race, there’s speed, there’s efficiency, and it’s getting to a certain place. 

And when you think about walk, it is different from that. So, it’s the pace, but I think it’s the awareness. When we slow down and walk, we begin to see, or at least that’s been my experience, see things that we wouldn’t typically see.  

I would love your perspective then on the mental health benefit of slowness or of pacing oneself, or of slowing down as Kaleb has articulated that. I think one of the things that stands out to me, and I don’t know if this is part of what you’re trying to capture or not, is just that to notice things and when, as we walk through day-to-day life, there are so many things that just become, we see them and our brain doesn’t pay attention to them any longer and it takes a lot of effort to just notice and noticing can be a really powerful thing in being able to participate in day to day life in a helpful kind of way. 

And I guess that’s part of what comes to mind there. There is a noticing and just an accepting of life the way life works, whether it’s seed in the ground that grows, embracing the anxiety that comes with. Well, sometimes when we run, we’re running away from things. 

Kathy, you’ve spoken a fair amount about mindfulness. It seems that walk is in the spirit of mindfulness. Is that true? Yes. And I was thinking even when you just said running from things, I also think just daily life we’re just running to the next thing. And so that reminder to walk is that mindful piece of just being able to enjoy each step in that journey. 

Yeah. We’ve been talking a lot about, hear about discipleship and there’s part of it that’s walking with others. It’s walking with our Lord, abiding, it’s following the Master, being disciples. But to your point though. They say about three miles an hour is the walking pace, and that’s the pace that Jesus walked. And there are some things that don’t come by way of efficiency. I think discipleship has got to be it. It just happens in three miles an hour. You’ve captured a lifestyle and a philosophy and a vision for it. But, a good way to start would be go take a walk. 

I’d like to go now, Ted, to your word. What’s your word and what’s the, oh, the big secret, he turns his paper over. This has been a secret. You know what, I bet he was the type of student that covered up his work with one arm and the other one snuck in the elbow. I was not letting these other guys see this. I didn’t want them to take my word. Kaleb almost did the way he was going with us. So, it applies? Yeah, it does. And so, the word I chose was cultivate. It has a lot of farming analogies. It also just means to foster growth, to encourage something, to further something, to develop something. And it really keys off what you said with walk, because it isn’t something, you actually don’t rush something when you cultivate it, but you do make it possible for the next thing to happen. 

When you were saying that, I will say just some memories came up of just even, my dad’s a farmer and just riding with him in the tractor when he was cultivating in the summer each year, and one thing that would happen is if he would get off focus or the tractor would get off or he’d get going too fast, plants would just be ripped out. And so, I think it just shows when I think of that, I just remember it being a slow process and just the need to just pay attention and move slowly with it in order for the farm in the field to fully benefit from it. There’s something really gentle, something very knowing about being a person who cultivates. 

I would like an example. We’ve been a little bit theoretical, and I think we captured it. What are some things that need to be cultivated, perhaps in 2023? Yeah, so one of the things that I think about in cultivation is when I think about my own life, when I think about other people’s lives, is to figure out where they are. And then figure out what the next doable small step is. Because the next doable small step that’s in the right direction, it is what cultivates.  

I think that when I talk to people and they say, Oh, I don’t know the Bible and I want to know the Bible. Okay? Nobody goes from not knowing the Bible to knowing the Bible. But… You know what? Maybe it’s a cultivating process. Yeah. Maybe it’s learning the books of the Bible. If that’s where you are. Then that’s where you need to start. There’s no need, no reason to say where you ought to be if you’re not there.  

And I think in that, one of the things I appreciate what you’re saying there, Ted, is that knowledge or knowing the Bible isn’t a particularly helpful goal until we turn it into, oh, where am I at? And now I’m going to learn the books of the Bible. That’s a tangible thing that we can move into cultivating and that’s achievable. Or another thing would be like a friendship I’d like to cultivate. Yep. A friendship with a specific person and then to move into, okay, what can I tangibly do over the next week or month that might help cultivate that. 

That’s right. And like with a friendship, you don’t necessarily go from, I don’t know this person to we’re the deepest friends overnight. It’s like, you know, you go in and you’re ankle deep and then you’re knee deep and then maybe it’s ankle deep or knee deep for a while before it goes deeper. 

I’m curious, Kaleb, in marriages, what’s one thing to cultivate? What are you thinking about in terms of this cultivation? What are areas to think about in marriage? Yeah, well, I think, part of this is we’ve been talking about implies stages and maturing and growing, and so I think it begins with accepting where we’re at, and I think that looks different for different couples as far as what that cultivation or what that small step would be. It could be simply turning to each other more and noticing each other. It can start in pretty small ways. But there’s lots of things. I like that. Let’s go to Kathy’s word.  

Yes. So, the word I chose was balance. I think that balance is probably something most people are looking for, and I think it’s a good place in the new year to be able to be thinking about how I maintain a balanced life. I think that there’s so many things that we have to do and want to do and get to do, and if we don’t have balance in all of those areas, then it just leads to feeling overwhelmed and stressed and disconnected.  

When you say balance, do you mean like everything is supposed to be equal? No, so actually, yes and no, but I don’t think that’s possible to be able to have, my thought would be not a rigid balance, but I think that probably some of the first steps there is just figuring out what values you have and the things that you want to be pouring time into. 

And so, then you can just be aware of sometimes we have really good things that we pour a lot of time and attention into, and it’s a good thing, but then other things get neglected. So, it’s the need for separating our time out in each area and each value. And I think that’s good, Kathy, even just to, for a lot of us, just to slow down and evaluate. Where is my time going? What does my schedule look like? What are the things that I’d like to expand, but either don’t have the opportunity to and if so, are there other things that maybe need to be reeled back in and the first of the year is a good time to assess that and try to reestablish. 

I think one of the challenges about balance is exactly what you’re talking about that a good thing can become a bad thing. Okay. It’s really easy to look at things and go, oh, well, if this is a bad thing, it shouldn’t be there. But it’s when something, you know, it’s that whole thing of all things are lawful to me, but not everything is profitable. 

That’s oftentimes the challenge for me, at least. Yeah. When I think of balance, what first came to my mind was when I’m out of balance only even like, so I don’t know if you’ve experienced it before, to go or even just dizziness or in this sense of there’s instability. You got to stop. Like when I think of again, when I get dizzy, it’s like you sit down, lay down. 

There’s like this stopping to get to a place of like, okay, I can re ground and rebalance and step into. And I think in a perfect world, we’re all trying to avoid that place where we are in a place of overwhelm because things are out of balance. So, just kind of having that intentional focus on, am I maintaining balance, I think is helpful. Ongoing. Yeah. That’s excellent.  

Brian, how about yours? So, my word that I chose is explore. And explore I think easily is the most fun word I mean, honestly it is, so I think that’s a good place to start, but I think explore. And what I mean by that so often we just go through day to day life and we just do the things that we do. And that’s not a bad thing, but I think periodically to just do something new or just to think about what is it that maybe I used to dream about, but I’ve not even thought about for a long time, or I’d like to try something or just see, there’s so many things out there that I haven’t done or that I’d be interested in, whether it’s learning or doing something. 

And so that’s kind of maybe from a big picture kind of standpoint, what I’m thinking of with the word explore. You know, one word that comes to mind when I think of explore is to wonder. I think every explorer starts with a wonder, right? That’s what gets them out the door. And I think the older we get, the less we wonder. I don’t know if that’s maybe my own self, my own inspection, but I think maybe as a whole that happens.  

And you’re really calling that to awaken again. I think so. I think as we age, sometimes our world just kind of keeps getting smaller and that’s part of because the wonder goes away or we stop exploring. 

And so, yeah, I agree. Yeah. I really like that word. It makes me think of just along those lines, Matt, of curiosity of when you’re thinking about exploration, being curious about something that may have, I’ve been there, but a new angle or a something new and you’re in a place of curiosity, which emotionally that is a place of engagement with others. 

And it’s about connection in that exploration in the place of curiosity, because that’s the best place for just, what we’d say, stepping into being with others. And I think that when we do something that’s not as predictable, like we don’t know what the next step is, it enlivens that and enlivens the emotions and gives opportunity for relational connection. 

Whereas sometimes when it’s just so predictable. There’s not as much opportunity for that sometimes. Yeah, and the ability just to have your worldview widened when you do some exploring. If it’s traveling or different activities or even foods or that sort of thing, you just get to stretch that worldview. 

I really appreciated what you said about different experiences and being open to things, even seeing things you haven’t seen or become routine to. I think one of the things that I’ve noticed lately is that I have taken a lot of relationships for granted and seen people for years and years and years and I just remember a couple times in this past year, we had funerals at the Morton Church and I read the obituaries, and I learned some things about some people that I had no idea at all. And I had gone to church with some of these individuals my whole life. I’m 50. They were probably close to 50 when I was born, right? 40 or 50, you know. And so, they always felt old to me, like they were the older people in church. 

But you know what? I never knew. And some of the things that they went through and did, I’m in awe of. And then I wonder, that’s that brother over there. And so, I think one of the things is to take relationships to the next level. And I don’t mean be intrusive or be a downer in every conversation. I have to like, okay, this is fun, but now I got to ask you a real serious question about pain in your life or, what was your first job? But, maybe, you know what I mean?  

Well, I think what really spoke to me as you mentioned that, Ted, is you really expanded the frontier of what exploration requires. And suddenly you are like your own backyard could be explored again. Exactly. And it needs to be because you’ve missed a lot. Yeah. And that, I think, is one of the neat things about the word that Brian chose is because it may be very external. You know, but it may be very close to home and I think an important point that comes along with explore is that with explore almost always for most of us it’s going to create a degree of uncomfortableness and anxiety And I think what happens sometimes is we get uncomfortable with that. 

And then that leads us to not exploring, but to really see that as part of the process. And I think something that helps us continue to move towards sanctification and growth, whether that’s exploring the backyard. Or the brother or sister at church that we don’t know as well as we’d like or learning to play the guitar or whatever that looks like, there’s going to be some uncomfortableness with explore. 

I do have a thought, I think it applies to all of them. And that is that more important than taking big steps is taking a doable step and taking a doable step is better than no step, okay? So, sometimes people, in all these things, feel like we have to make great progress, or we have to really know how this is going to end up, or whatever. And so, risking, taking a small step, is really what it’s about, whether it’s learning about God, or others. 

Yeah, I appreciate you saying that, Ted, and it makes me think of in taking a small step, it is accepting our limitations and not seeing them as bad or enemies, but being able to, because it does certainly open up an opportunity for God’s grace. Even the exploration sense of leaning on something other than my ability to take three big steps. 

Yeah, and just receive that and have movement. Yeah, God isn’t surprised that we need to grow. Yes, that’s not a surprise to him. He’s like, yeah, I have this picture of the dad or mom that has their arms out to the child that’s learning to walk. Come on, you can do this, here I am, walk to me. And how much celebration there is over just a very small thing. And I think even in that, maybe the first step of this would be just to take some time to sit down, contemplate the new year and would you want to pick a word or would you want to pick something to pursue and then to think about what the next step is from there. But just to sit down and start somewhere, just being able to narrow in on what is one thing I can focus on that really has multiple ways of benefiting life. Thanks. Thanks to each one. 

We’ve heard four words, walk, cultivate, balance, explore, and to our listeners, I just hope that these words could be somewhat instructive and are really like picking up on the conversation that we’ve had here. Where do we start? Well, there’s no place to start like where we’re at. We begin to walk there. We begin to work out balance there. We begin to cultivate those things there. We start our exploration there, right where we’re at in 2023. Welcome everyone to the new year. Thanks for being here.  

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